If Rast RFC ain’t better than B.I.G., he’s the closest one.
He casually backs up his legitimacy as a veteran of streetlife on “Bad Dope,” word to his Beretta. And while that might sound cliché in rap, Rast is above average. What I’ve read about Rast in the past few days—with his song “Mark David Chapman” on repeat—I am a believer in his will to be one of the greatest of all time. I never used to put anyone above Biggie, not even Jay Z. But Rast is so damn close that I am afraid to think he might be Biggie’s truest counterpart. It also helps that Rast’s “King Tut” and “Super Nintendo” use instrumentals from two of Biggie’s most prolific performances: “Long Kiss Goodnight” and “Flavor in Your Ear (Remix).” Across West 3rd Street, Rast’s new mixtape
even has an uncanny likeness to Biggie’s unpolished demo tapes with DJ 50 Grand and Mister Cee. I actually still play B.I.G.’s demos more than Life After Death. So when I heard “MDC” for the first time last week, starting with the opening sample from EPMD’s “Rampage”* (another fav song), I knew I was going to like what came next. Rast’s delivery felt like flying down the FDR Drive in a car chase. Quentin Tarantino couldn’t direct a better movie than the wild, uncontrollable, and fast times of Rast in the ’90s. I spent about two hours yesterday listening to this man’s catalog on Soundcloud; by far it was the best use of my time engulfing myself in one rapper’s fun yet sad stories that spoke true to everything I grew up hearing on the streets of New York when I was in high school.
[*Ed. Note: Rast RFC raps over Pete Rock’s remix of “Rampage.”]
As far back as I remember, passing through West 4th St. and 6th Ave with my homie just to cop from the local dealers was relatively easy. We never got robbed or jumped regardless of what brands we wore when we were on RFC’s (Running From Cops) turf in the West Village. We were regulars of the neighborhood because we were loyal to our weed smoking habit. We were the prep school custies, similar to the ones mentioned in the “Prep School Gangsters” (1996) cover story in New York Magazine. So much in New York has changed since 1996. I’m much older now, but I remember so many times the mood shifting from low-key drinking and smoking with a few friends after school (when parents were away) to paranoia because there were way too many kids from various crews (like BAF-Blunts and Forties) who invited themselves over. Fights broke out, things got stolen, and shit just got way out of hand. This time when New York City was rampant with mischiefs was scary, but I knew it as the norm, and it made me wise at an early age. I feel like I’m coming full circle listening to Rast’s tales from the darkside. In my mind, Biggie was the architype of what real Brooklyn hustlers were like, and everything he rapped about—before Puffy came into the mix—you could walk the streets and somehow be reminded of B.I.G.’s inspiration. Like B.I.G., Rast rhymes effortlessly because he doesn’t have to fabricate anyone else’s reality. He’ll admit some things are exaggerated, but truth be told, underneath Mike Bloomberg’s façade there are guys like Rast RFC, Droog, and Timeless Truth who have me spinning in a time warp.